From 'Minerva Protects Pax from Mars' by Rubens, c. 1980 - 1981
Charcoal on paper
15 7/8 x 19 3/4 in, 40.4 x 50 cm
In 1936, at ten years old, Leon Kossoff paid his first visit to London’s National Gallery. Entranced by the masterpieces on display, these works would become an enduring fascination throughout...
In 1936, at ten years old, Leon Kossoff paid his first visit to London’s National Gallery. Entranced by the masterpieces on display, these works would become an enduring fascination throughout his career. For over forty years Kossoff created sketches, prints and paintings from the works by Old and Modern Masters such as Poussin, Rembrandt, Velazquez, Veronese, Constable, Cézanne and Degas, re-experiencing and re-imagining them through the act of drawing. The inspiration for this work, Rubens’s monumental painting ‘Minerva Protects Pax from Mars’ of 1629-30, is a jewel in the National Gallery’s collection.
Kossoff created works from Ruben’s ‘Minerva Protects Pax from Mars’ for nearly a decade. This culminated in an oil painting of similar size to Ruben’s in 1981 and a suite of prints between 1988 – 1989. This present drawing is a preparatory sketch for the painting. Drawing is a crucial part of Kossoff’s creative process, and he repeatedly returns to the same subjects to fully familiarise himself with them and enter their world. Kossoff entitles his interpretations as ‘From’ instead of ‘After’ as is customary. He uses this terminology in both a physical and metaphysical sense to emphasise that he is ‘taking from’ and ‘drawing from’ his predecessors.
For Kossoff, his entire artistic practice is rooted in drawing for “Painting is drawing with paint”, and “I think of everything I do as a form of drawing”. ‘From 'Minerva Protects Pax from Mars' by Rubens’ is characteristic of the artist’s swift and animated drawing technique. The lines are agitated and deliberate, as if Kossoff is pouring his creativity onto the page. Bodies are piled on top of each other in a mass of movement and emotion, while the strong overlaying lines give this work a heightened sense of drama.
Very few of Kossoff’s drawings were created with the commercial market in mind. They are highly personal and have been kept in his studio or occasionally given to friends. ‘From 'Minerva Protects Pax from Mars' by Rubens’ was donated by Kossoff to raise funds for the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Sale: Sotheby's London, The
Courtauld Auction, 23 March 1987
Private Collection, London
The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Andrea Rose